Disputes On Where To Live

Dear Sara,

I live in a small town. I grew up here and it’s a beautiful place to live. I have a job teaching third grade and I love it. I’ve been dating the same guy since high school and we got engaged this year and we plan to be married when he gets his MD. He’s really smart and will make a great pediatrician. He want to move to New York and set up practice there and has friends who want him to join in their practice. I just don’t think I could live and raise my children in all that commotion and he doesn’t want to practice medicine in a small town. This just seems to be a problem that can’t be solved. What can I do besides break up with him?

Dear Megan,

You have had a great relationship up until now. Why don’t you visit New York a few times? There may be places around New York where you could feel comfortable. Don’t let this be such a black and white situation. You are used to small-town life so it would be a big adjustment to live in a big city. Do some exploring with your fiance and see if there are some areas around New York where things aren’t so busy. Take your time and explore a bit. It may be hard on your fiance to commute but if you give a bit and he gives a bit maybe you could make it work. It would be a shame to lose a relationship that has lasted this long.

Good luck.

Dad In Dire Need Of Peace

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married fifteen years and things have been going very well up until now. I have a good job, we bought a house and the kids are in private school. My wife was in a terrible wreck and is bedridden and we don’t know if she will walk again. She ran a red light and the other guy is in bad shape too. I am in charge of everything including housework, cooking and seeing that the kids get to school. I have some part-time help with my wife so that she is not alone when I go to work but I have to take care of her the rest of the time. She’s angry and demanding and I understand but it’s really getting to me. With all the other expenses I don’t think I can hire more help. I feel trapped. The kids just seem to avoid her. What can I do to have some peace in my life?

Dear Mike,

This dreadful accident has certainly turned your life upside down. Your wife is justifiably angry for being helpless and probably angry at herself for putting everyone in this position. It will take a while to accept her life as it is. Hopefully, she will gain back her ability to walk but it will take time and hard work.

Have you thought about taking the kids out of private school and freeing up that money for more help? This is not the best time for this but you sound desperate and they will adjust. If you have more help then you could spend more time with them. I think they need that now.

Modern Day Dennis The Menace

Dear Sara,

My kids are grown and out of the house. My problem is a little seven year old who lives on my block. On weekends he seems to have no boundaries or discipline. He’s out in all kinds of weather and is often in his neighbors’ yards and doesn’t mind getting into everybody’s things. He has let my dog out of the backyard a couple of times and I had to go find him. The other neighbors have similar complaints. I know I need to speak to his parents but I don’t want bad feelings with my neighbors. What should I do?

Dear Josie,

The little seven year old is doing what is normal for a seven-year-old, investigating and exploring. It’s not safe for him to be out and about unsupervised. Why don’t you bake a cake or some cookies and visit his parents? It will seem more like a friendly visit than a visit to complain about their son. Let them know what a nice boy he is but that there have been some problems with him roaming the neighborhood unsupervised. They might get angry and defensive but at least they will know there is a problem. He will eventually get in trouble if he is allowed to roam free. Don’t be afraid to call CPS if he remains unsupervised.

Recent Death Of Husband

Dear Sara,

My husband was killed in a car wreck about five months ago. We had enough insurance to pay for his funeral expenses and enough for me and my kids to live on for about six or eight months more. We have a house that I have to pay payments on. It’s going to be hard to get a job with the little experience I have and I have two preschoolers to take care of. My parents live in another state and I don’t really get along with them. I can see that I am going to have to sell the house but the money from that won’t last forever. I feel confused and alone. What are my options?

Dear Abbie,

I know it’s hard but you are going to have to face facts and learn how to support yourself. If you have to sell your home to have money to live on, this won’t last forever and if you get a job you will have to pay a sitter or daycare for your children. Your best option might be to move back home and live with your parents until you get training or education so that you can support yourself. Your money will eventually run out. If you don’t think about it now you will probably end up with your parents anyway.

Take care of yourself and your kids. Things will get better with time.

Helping With Reading Difficulties

Dear Sara,

My son is in fourth grade now and he seems to have difficulty reading things meant for his age group. I have been trying to get him to read out loud to me and I can see how difficult it is for him. He’s not very interested in school things and would rather play games on the computer. He does OK with things like math but anything that requires reading he just barely passes. Is there any way I can help him?

Dear Molly,

Have you had your son’s eyes tested lately? If it’s hard for him to see the words he’s at a big disadvantage. You might also have him checked for dyslexia. His brain may be making it hard for him to read. If the problem is that he’s just not interested and would rather play on the computer then you will have to use his computer time as a reward for working on his reading skills. You could buy a couple of books for his age group that might be interesting to him and let him know that he has to read to you for a half hour before he can play on the computer. Reading is important in any job he will have.

Life After Being A Stay At Home Mom

Dear Sara,

I decided to be a stay at home Mom when I started having children and my husband agreed with me. Now my children are grown and have lives of their own and are doing well. They don’t need me anymore and I understand this. I want my children to be independent and happy. I have a lot of free time and I would like to go to college. My husband disagrees with this strongly so I would be going against his wishes if I decided to go back to school. He said it’s too expensive and not necessary. How can I convince him it’s necessary for me?

Dear Lauren,

It sounds like you have always done your best for your family and your husband feels threatened because you are doing something that would make you more independent. It will not be easy for you to go against his wishes since this is what he has come to expect. You probably won’t be able to convince him that you need something else in your life. If this is something that you really want then go for it. What you want is important too.

Living Up To Parents Expectations

Dear Sara,

I’m a freshman in college this year. My Dad is a doctor and my parents expect me to go to medical school. I’m not sure what I want but I know that I don’t want to be a doctor. They will be very disappointed when I tell them this. I think my true calling is art. I’ve always love to paint and draw and I think I am very good at it. I’m taking art classes as electives but I really would like to go to art school. How can I convince my parents that this is my true calling?

Dear Cory,

College is a time where you can explore different options. Sometimes where you start out isn’t where you end up so take your time. In the end, your goal will be to find a job and be able to support yourself. Could you support yourself with your artwork or by teaching art? Is there another profession that would be interesting for you and give you time to use your talent as an artist as a sideline? Eventually, you will want to have a family and will need to earn a living to support them. You don’t have to make up your mind yet. Maybe some class that you take will lead you in the right direction.

Your parents may be disappointed when you tell them that you don’t want to be a doctor but you need to choose a path that is right for you. When you talk to them, let them know how you feel. Don’t get angry and get into a big confrontation. Just be consistent in telling them that the medical field is not right for you. If you want to go to art school and your parents don’t agree you may have to do this on your own. Be prepared to get a job and a loan and be able to work part-time.

Dealing With Teenage Attitude

Dear Sara,

I have two boys ages eight and twelve. I’ve never had any problems with my twelve year old. He’s a good kid who has lots of friends and does well in school. The eight-year-old is a totally different child. He’s angry a lot when he doesn’t get his way and isn’t doing well in school. He wasn’t doing his homework so I sat with him at night and supervised. Now I found out that he hasn’t turned it in and may have to repeat third grade. What can I do to change his attitude?


Dear Ella,

Sounds like you have a really unhappy boy. I’m wondering if he is being compared to his older brother and has decided that he can’t keep up so he will just try to be the opposite. Sometimes kids have differences and you need to appreciate them as they are. You might try to find little things that your younger son is good at and give him praise and attention for these things. Try to be positive with him and don’t compare him to his brother as the perfect example.

It doesn’t sound like your eight-year-old is struggling in school if he can actually do his homework. You might want to make sure he does his homework and if he chooses to not turn it in he will have to repeat the grade. That’s the consequence of his actions. Right now he needs some positive attention and especially no comparison to his brother. It could take a while but if things don’t improve you might want to consider some family therapy.

Lending A Hand

Dear Sara,

I am a senior citizen living on a fixed income. My next door neighbor is a young mother with three preschoolers. She is constantly yelling at them and they seem out of control. Sometimes when she has to take one of them to a doctor she asks me to watch the other two. My three children are grown and have moved away so I don’t mind helping her. The kids seem to behave when they are with me but I really don’t have anything to do but play with them or let them help me bake cookies. I feel like she needs to parent in a different way. Should I tell her how I did things?

Dear Anna,

You certainly could give her some pointers but if she gets upset and thinks you are interfering you could just back off. She probably is feeling overwhelmed and could just use a friend to talk to. Let her vent her feelings to you and as time goes on she can see you as a friend and not just some nosy neighbor, she might trust you enough to take your advice. It sounds like you could be good for each other.

Failure To Launch

Dear Sara,

My son is twenty-two years old and still living at home. He had a job for a while and was fired. He didn’t say why. He has a den and a bedroom in the basement and he stays down there most of the time. He mostly just eats watches TV and plays on his phone. He is starting to gain weight. How can I get him to start living again?

Dear Jackson,

It sounds like your son is depressed. He is not going to do anything as long as he can hole up in your basement and be provided with food, TV, and telephone. You need some tough love here. If you can cut off his access to TV and phone, do that. Don’t buy any of his favorite foods and lock up what you can. Agree to give him access to these things only if he agrees to see a therapist. If he doesn’t cooperate, he loses his TV, phone and food that he likes. If you don’t do something he will sink further into his depression and it will be more difficult to help him go on with his life.